For many people, it's not officially spring until they turn on the TV and see the azaleas that bloom each April at the Augusta National Country Club in Georgia-the site of the Masters professional golf tournament.
Azaleas are a large, diverse group of flowering shrubs with single and double blooms in many shades of white, purple, red, pink or orange. Most bloom from early to late spring with a few extending later into the growing season.
To enjoy the beauty of azaleas at your own home, begin by choosing a variety that is well adapted to your garden environment and climate.
"Check with your local nursery, home center or cooperative extension service to see what they recommend based on your region of the country," says Bayer Advanced™ Garden Expert Lance Walheim, who wrote the best-selling book "Roses for Dummies" and is a regular contributor to Sunset magazine. He thinks choosing the right types and varieties for your area is the first step to success. "Then choose a consistent color theme as opposed to the Crayola Crayon approach of mixing them up."
Here are a few important tips for planting azaleas:
Choose a planting site with light shade (some varieties can take some sun) and well-drained, acidic soil rich in organic matter;
Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball. The top of the root ball should be slightly above the top of the surrounding soil;
Lift the container off the plant and cut or loosen any matted roots off the root ball;
After planting, apply a thick layer of organic mulch and keep soil slightly moist, never letting the plants dry out completely.
Azaleas can last for decades in your yard with proper watering and preventive measures to ward off destructive insects and diseases. Bayer Advanced Dual Protection Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron Insect & Disease Control protects against aphids, Japanese beetles, lace bugs and leaf beetles while controlling diseases such as leaf spot, powdery mildew and rust. One application protects for up to six weeks and is applied as a drench-so no spraying. Just measure, mix and pour-it's that easy to protect your investment and keep your azaleas beautiful year-round.